I think that’s what happened this week, i started to forgive Vancouver. Forgive it for letting me down. I started off on this blog looking for some clarity. My first post was about my lack of faith and my doubt in my own ability or the world around me, to change. I talked about my memory of the first time i remember thinking that the world wasn’t a fair place, and being about six years old, it was probably earlier, but this day i remember well, the day in the lunch room, watching the CARE commercial on the TV and seeing this young child from Africa, bloated belly and flies on their face, and image many of us have scene in the western world. I felt sick, couldn’t eat, didn’t understand how we lived in the same world, and I had food and they didn’t. All the years that followed, and all the nightmares of the home i grew up in may have been as much as i could handle, speaking up, being politically active, that was for other people.
I moved here in 1992 and my world changed. I fell in love with Vancouver. I could try things here. I met my friend Kim when we were working at Bridges Restaurant and she brought me to volunteer at Adbusters Magazine, i loved it. I think the subversiveness appealed to me. I imagine my lifelong efforts to that point, of trying not to make anybody mad, and the 6 year old in me that wanted to respond, but didn’t know how, felt a kind of homecoming, and it continued for years. When I arrived at Carnegie i remember the feeling i had the first night i was in the building, the first time i saw the building. I had a strong sense that this was a place i was meant to be. So much happened. I tried all kinds of things. I raised money to go to Italy to take singing lessons, i filed a Human Rights complaint against my racist boss and won. I came to Carnegie Centre, stood on the corner and invited people to draw and write in chalk on the sidewalk which unfolded in to community mural projects, and the Carnegie Street Outreach program, where i scrubbed feet, blew bubbles to break up fights, revived people, and asked dealers to stop selling drugs for a moment of silence when we had a memorial service. I have stood in crowds of traumatized faces year after year to mourn missing and murdered women, a field of a thousand crosses for overdose victims, thousands of meetings about projects, how things could be better, funding, everything. Then I moved to Salsbury and Napier, and I fell in love with this beautiful garden with a cob cottage in the back. We fought hard to save it. I worked meticulously on a scale model of the garden to present to the Board of Variance. Sat at a table with my neighbour, a long table filled with mostly men, gave a passionate plea, and at the end of the long hot night, they told us we could keep our garden, the developer couldn’t build there. It lasted 5 minutes. The Board of Variance was fired and sued, along with us, and evicted. The cob house was smashed, 100 year old trees demolished, thousands of species of plants along with it, to be replaced by beige duplexes. I hated Vancouver, i hated how full of shit it was. How it professed compassion, but let people die on its streets, and demolished sacred community spaces. I hated it for letting me down.
I read another version of my film about the city in class the other day. It was dramatic, and filled with hateful analogies of the city I used to love, a city drained of colour, soulless, greedy and narcisstic. Not untrue, but not a place i want to stay, metaphorically anyways. I had this thought a while ago about what I would do differently If i was Mayor, or If i had the power to make things better. That’s where I want to go. I want to love you again, and even if its just on film, i want to know what it feels like to dream again, and imagine a better place, and what i would do to make it happen.